Old Pa Pitt would be delighted if someone could tell him something of the history of this building. He knows that it was put up in 1921, because the date is proudly displayed at the top of the building. He suspects, from the look of the building and from some random chatter on the Internet, that it was an ethnic club, possibly Serbian—but that is speculation. Technically it is on the Slopes side of the railroad that separates the South Side Flats from the South Side Slopes, but this lower part of the Slopes seems to be socially more connected to the East European Flats than to the German streets above. About fifteen years ago, Liberty Hall was briefly a nightclub; it closed in less than a year, and neighbors rallied to prevent it from opening again. And that is all Father Pitt knows, so he would be happy to hear from someone better informed.
Looking south on South 16th Street toward the South Side Slopes. Note the large number of aluminum awnings, which used to be even more ubiquitous in Pittsburgh; the back streets of Old Birmingham are the best place to see them now.
Kosciusko Way, apparently named for the famous Polish hero of the Revolutionary War, is a narrow and crowded street that makes a brave attempt to go straight up from Josephine Street into the South Side Slopes, but makes it only a block before being utterly defeated by topography.
One of Pittsburgh’s distinctive features is the huge number of public stairways. Many streets that appear on maps are actually stairways, like Eleanor Street here. In the early days of GPS navigation, trip instructions would often send drivers up or down these streets; but most GPS systems have now learned to recognize the streets that can accommodate pedestrians only.
And bicycle cops. To be a Pittsburgh bicycle cop, you have to be able to ride down one of these stairways. If you are still alive at the bottom of it, you’re qualified.
Open Street Map does a good job of showing the public stairways on the South Side Slopes. All the denser red dotted lines are stairways. The narrower, sparser dotted lines are walkways.
Some neighborhoods are so steep that the only way to build a street parallel to the slope is to do it in two parts. These two streets on the South Side Slopes are on the list of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation historic landmarks, but they are not the only terraced streets in the city. The same thing happens in Beechview, for example, another neighborhood laid out in defiance of topography. Above is Stella Street; below, Shelly Street.